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Pageant may exclude trans women from its competitions, circuit court says: NPR


The 9th Court of Appeals for the United States Circuit in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday that the operator of the Miss United States of America pageant could not be compelled to openly allow transgender women to participate in its pageants.

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Pageant may exclude trans women from its competitions, circuit court says: NPR

The 9th Court of Appeals for the United States Circuit in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday that the operator of the Miss United States of America pageant could not be compelled to openly allow transgender women to participate in its pageants.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The operator of the Miss United States of America pageant cannot be compelled to openly allow transgender women to enter its pageants, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The judgment said that to be forced to do this would hamper the organization’s ability to express its belief that the pageant is for “natural born” women only.

The judges of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed the complaint filed by Anita Green, an activist and trans woman. Green claimed that Miss United States of America’s eligibility rules, which expressly require contestants to be “born female”, violate an anti-discrimination law in Oregon, where she lives.

Green first sued Miss United States of America LLC (doing business as United States of America Pageants) in Oregon district court in 2019.

Green says she contacted national pageant director Tanice Smith about a policy change and was turned down. She still applied to compete, but her application was rejected.

Miss United States of America LLC should not be confused with Miss USA pageants, which allow trans entrants to compete.

Green called the contest policy arbitrary

“I don’t think anyone shouldn’t be allowed to compete just because they’re transgender,” Green said in a 2019 interview with NPR. “I think it’s very arbitrary. Transgender women are equal to cisgender women.

“To me, pageantry isn’t just about how a person looks. To me, it’s about giving people a voice,” Green said.

The Miss United States of America eligibility requirement is protected by First Amendment protection against forced speech, the judges’ order says. In their 2-1 decision, the judges rejected Green’s belief that it violated Oregon’s public housing law.

“The panel noted that it is commonly believed that beauty pageants are generally designed to express the ‘ideal view of American femininity.’ The pageant would not be able to communicate ‘the celebration of biological women’ if it was obligated to allow Green to participate,” the order reads.

The judges continued, “The panel found that forcing the contest to accept Green as an entrant would fundamentally alter the expressive message of the contest in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

The order upheld an earlier district court ruling.

Lawyers for Green and Miss United States of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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